Sunday, September 28, 2008

Living in an apiary

Well, not quite an apiary because it isn't honey bees. So what am I talking about? Three o'clock in the morning, I hear this clicking sound in my bedroom that just doesn't stop. It's loud enough to keep me awake so I get up and start listening closely until I find the approximate source of the sound. I put my ear up to the wall and listen. I hear the sound of buzzing wings and instantly realize I have bees in the wall. Most people call this type of bee a yellow jacket but that is not correct. I'm not sure what type of bee or wasp it is but they do have rather large nests with 250 to 500 bees in the hive.

I don't want the bees coming into the house and I also need to get into the attic so I'll need to eliminate the nest. So I wait for morning and head out to the garage to get some spray to kill the pests. While in the garage, I find another unpleasant surprise waiting for me. I see water beneath the water heater. That's not a good sign. After a bit of investigation, I can see a slow leak at the back but can't find the source. Most likely, the tank has started rusting because the water heater is 12 years old now.

Meanwhile, my brother calls and needs me take my truck and go help pick up some mobility scooters for our mother. I start the truck and by shear chance, happen to notice that it too is leaking water. After another quick investigation it becomes evident that the water pump is leaking from the seal around the front shaft. So, after a couple hours of work, $40 for a new water pump and a gallon of anti-freeze, the truck is back working again.

By the time we finish picking up the scooters, it's too late to work on the water heater. I'll have to tackle it next weekend. Sadly, I'll have to work on more plumbing too because when I turned off the water to the heater, I noticed that the valve started leaking. The seal will need to be repacked but that will require shutting off the primary water main. I guess next weekend will be very busy too. A guy just can't get a break some days!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Slow down time

True to my words, I'm taking a break from the landscaping project. I slept in just a wee bit today and watched some anime early in the day. I wasn't able to watch anything on my satellite though. My dish network is offline at the moment as the neighbors tree grew so much this summer that it blocked my dish signal. One of the many things I need to fix.

Later in the day, I decided to roam outside for a while and stopped at a few thrift stores. It turned out to be fairly successful as I found a Pronto 3000 universal remote controller for 10 dollars. While looking at it in the store, it wouldn't function but I gambled that I could make it work once I got it home. Fortunately, it turned out that the power source at the store was apparently unreliable because once I plugged it in at home it operated normally. Now I just need to figure out how to program the beasty. I'll use it to control my funky old Pioneer CLD-504 LaserDisc player. I love old retro hardware like the LD player. Just too cool!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ready to wind down on the landscape project.

Most of the "must complete" tasks for the landscaping project are done at this point. There are still a lot of small tasks that remain but most can be delayed for a while. I think I'm going to take the upcoming weekend off and catch up on some rest. It's been five months of non-stop work and I'm totally worn out. A break is absolutely necessary at this point. The long range weather forecast is indicating it will start raining on Thursday and will remain that way for a while. Good! That way I won't feel guilty when I'm lounging about the house on Saturday and Sunday.

I did manage to accomplish quite a bit of work on the yard this weekend. One of the larger tasks was installing some low voltage lighting. The lighting turned out exceptionally nice. In fact, one of my neighbors commented on how good the lighting looks at night. Way cool!

I also obtained a small but cool stone for the yard. One of my neighbors decided to give away one of their landscaping stones. I gladly accepted it and found a nice new home for it next to some Japanese Silver grass. The stone is triangular shaped and can be seen in the middle section of the following photograph:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Welcome to Itchy and Scratchy Land!

When I look at my yard, it reminds me a bit of Disneyland or Disney World. It's not because the yard is spectacular, but more because of the network of utilities that make everything work. With Disneyland, the old saying is that for all the things you see above ground, there are just as many or more below ground that provide the support. It's a similar situation with my yard. There is a huge network of pipes, valves, and utility boxes placed throughout the yard that provide the necessities. It's really quite interesting.

As for the progress of the project, things are moving forward at a moderate pace. I managed to order the border stones for the pond this weekend. About two thirds of the perimeter is now bordered with flagstone. It looks a bit sharp and rough but by next year it will be much nicer. I will place a variety of plants around the border stones to soften up the hard edges of the stone. Time for a bit of patience on my part as I will need to wait for the plants to grow.

Next week, I hope to start work on wiring in some low voltage lights. That way the yard will be usable at night. One of the other things I need to do is order a chimenea so that I have a fire feature for the yard. A chimenea will also provide a bit of warmth when a person is sitting out in the yard on a cooler evening in the later part of fall. So many things to do, so little time!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Six years in the making

It was about six years ago that the initial work started on the pond. After making good initial progress, the project stalled and sat idle for over five years. Then earlier this spring, it got that little kick start it needed. After four months of non-stop work, I've hit another milestone in the landscaping project. The pond was finally filled with water today!

There is still a lot of work left to do but the pace won't need to be as fast as it has been. The border stones still need to be placed around the edge of the pond and a bit of additional plumbing work is still required. All in all though, things are looking very good. I'm extremely happy with the results I'm seeing. It will be really nice when I will finally be able to sit down and enjoy the yard during the fall season.